Shillong, Jun 3 (PTI) The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on Thursday joined the rescue efforts at the illegal coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district where five miners are trapped.
The miners are trapped for the last four days inside the illegal coal mine that was flooded after a dynamite explosion.
'A 24-member team from NDRF has arrived at the accident site in Umpleng. The NDRF joined the teams of SDRF and the state's Fire Service who were already stationed there,' a senior official told PTI.
There are no signs of those trapped at the bottom of the vertical opening of the mine, he said.
The mine has an opening of about 25 ft x 25 ft and is over 500 ft deep. It is expected to have many smaller horizontal openings used by the miners to extract coal from the seams, the official said.
'Members of the NDRF team got onto an iron basket and made use of the crane at the site to inspect the water level.
We have requisitioned more pumps to try and reduce the water to a level safe enough for the divers to begin their search,' the official said.
Divers of the rescue teams could safely dive up to a vertical depth of about 30-35 feet only, considering the high altitude at which the mine is located, he said.
At least five miners have been identified by the district administration -- four from Assam and one from Tripura -- who are stuck somewhere in the rat-hole mine since Sunday evening.
Heaps of fresh coal were found deposited along the road from Shi Kilo, Ar kilo, Lai kilo, and Sookilo till Sutnga and up to Umpleng.
The accident site at Umpleng is not far away from the coal mine at Ryngksan village in which 15 miners were trapped in December 2018.
The NDRF was part of that rescue efforts as well along with the Army, Navy and Air Force. But, of the 15 miners trapped, only three bodies could be retrieved -- two from Assam and a local -- before the operation was called off.
Coal mining and transportation have been banned in Meghalaya since 2014 for their unscientific and unsafe practices.
Although no mining lease has been granted in the state, illegal mining and transportation have been continuing.
PTI JOP SOM SOM